In 2022, detached single-family homes reigned supreme. They constituted about 79% of all home purchases in the United States. Meanwhile, the least sought-after residential properties were duplexes, apartments, or condos in two to four-unit buildings, accounting for just two percent of the year's total purchases. However, in the townhouse vs. condo battle, there was only a 1% difference (3% vs. 2% respectively.)
Source: StatistaGet A Free Mortgage Quote
The real estate landscape is ever-evolving. For many prospective homeowners - especially for those getting started - the decision often comes down to townhouses vs. condos. Understanding the differences between these two housing options is crucial, as they cater to various lifestyles, budgets, and preferences.
Townhouses and condominiums share many common traits. However, beneath the surface, there are subtle yet significant differences between townhouses and condos. In this guide, we'll take a closer look at what is the difference between a townhouse and a condo.
Townhouse vs. Condo: Key Differences
When it comes to the townhouse vs. condominium, one of the most prevalent differences is that of its definition.
A townhouse is a multi-story residential property that typically shares one or two walls with adjacent units, often resembling a compact, single-family home. Townhouse owners usually have ownership of both the interior and exterior of their unit, including the land it sits on.
A condominium (often referred to as a condo), on the other hand, is a type of housing where individual homeowners own their units within a larger property or complex. Condo owners have ownership of their unit's interior. Common areas and exterior maintenance are typically managed by a condominium association shared by all residents.
Another key difference between a townhouse and a condo lies in ownership. In a condo, you own your individual unit, while common areas and shared spaces are owned communally by all residents. These shared spaces encompass:
- The building's exterior,
- Amenities like pools and gyms, and
- The surrounding grounds.
In a townhouse, you typically own both the interior and exterior of your unit, along with any outdoor areas and even the land it sits on. While condos emphasize individual units, townhouses lean toward detached single-family homes with varying levels of shared property.
Both townhouses and condos often require membership in a homeowners association (HOA) and the payment of monthly association fees. However, the responsibilities of these HOAs differ.
In condo communities, the HOA is primarily responsible for managing the building, its grounds, and interior shared spaces. On the other hand, townhouse HOAs typically manage common areas, including general grounds, roofs, and exterior features.
It's essential to review the specific rules and fees of the HOA for each property, as they can vary widely, influencing your living experience.
Generally, both townhouses and condos offer more affordability compared to detached single-family homes. However, there are cost differences between them. Condos are often cheaper to purchase upfront because you're not acquiring any land.
Still, condo HOA fees tend to be higher due to the maintenance of shared spaces. Townhouses might appear more expensive based on square footage, but the final purchase price often depends on location and various factors.
Resale values for both condos and townhouses can be similar, contingent upon how well the units have been maintained. Condos offer interior maintenance benefits, while townhouse owners enjoy more control over exterior and interior upkeep, influencing the property's overall appeal.
Both condos and townhouses share at least one wall with a neighboring unit, which can affect privacy. Townhouses generally provide more privacy since they closely resemble detached homes, sharing walls with neighbors but not typically above or below.
Condos, by design, belong to larger complexes and can have shared walls in all directions, making them less private.
Legal Status & Restrictions
Condos in the United States and Canada are governed by specific federal and local laws, distinct from the laws governing townhouses. They often fall under the same regulations as detached single-family homes. Additionally, condos may have tighter restrictions imposed by HOAs due to their greater number of shared areas and tenants.
A key point to note here is that in 2023, the United States witnessed a 3.3% decrease in existing home sales, compared to 2022. As of June 2023, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate marked a total of 4.16 million units - the lowest level in five months - slightly below the anticipated 4.2 million.
The legal status and restrictions therein were a primary point that led to this decline as it didn't offer as much freedom. This representation reflects the sales of condominiums, townhouses, and co-ops primarily.
While some townhouse communities offer amenities like pools and clubhouses, condos often excel in this department. High-end condo buildings frequently provide luxury amenities such as retail spaces, exercise studios, concierge services, and rooftop decks.
However, it's crucial to recognize that more and better-quality amenities often result in higher HOA fees.
Homeowners Insurance Condo Townhouse Difference
Condo homeowners' insurance typically covers only the unit's interior. Townhouse homeowners' insurance extends to both the interior and exterior, including the land. Consequently, insurance for townhouses is often more expensive due to the need for broader coverage.
Here's a concise table summarizing the townhouse vs. condo discussion above:
Now, let's discuss the pros and cons of both to determine which one suits your needs best.Get A Free Mortgage Quote
The Pros and Cons of Condos and Townhouses for Owners
Buying a Townhouse:
- Cost: Townhouses sharing walls with neighbors can be more affordable than detached single-family homes.
- Maintenance: Townhouses often require less maintenance due to their smaller size and potential HOA involvement.
- Amenities: Some townhouse developments offer specific amenities like clubhouses or pools.
- Outdoor Space: Townhouses usually provide access to outdoor areas such as patios or private garages.
- HOA Restrictions: Homeowners may encounter various restrictions imposed by the HOA, potentially affecting personalization and budget. For example, you may not be able to benefit from solar energy in your townhouse due to HOA restrictions.
- Noise Pollution: The proximity to neighbors might lead to more noise pollution.
- Multi-Floor Living: Multi-story living may not be suitable for older homeowners.
Buying a Condo:
- Less Maintenance: Condo residents enjoy the convenience of maintenance services for shared areas, reducing individual responsibilities.
- Security: Condos often offer enhanced security features, providing peace of mind.
- Amenities: Condos come with an array of amenities, enhancing the quality of life for residents.
- Affordability: Condos are generally more affordable than single-family homes, making homeownership accessible to a broader range of buyers.
- Sense of Community: Condos foster a sense of community due to their close proximity, promoting social interactions.
- Appreciation and Equity: Condos can appreciate in value and contribute to building equity over time.
- HOA Fees: Condo amenities and services translate into monthly HOA fees, potentially increasing the overall cost.
- Lack of Privacy: Condos might have less privacy due to shared walls and close neighbors.
- Resale Challenges: Condo resale can be challenging due to limited buyer interest and specific preferences.
- Delinquency: Some condo owners may fail to meet HOA dues, shifting the financial burden to others in the community.
Who Should Buy What?
The choice between a condo and a townhouse ultimately hinges on your lifestyle, convenience, and budget. These two housing options share numerous similarities, but the subtle differences can be crucial when making your decision.
Millennial buyers seeking low-maintenance living may find condos ideal. On the other hand, families in need of more space, outdoor amenities, and a sense of community might opt for townhouses. Similarly, seniors looking to downsize and simplify their homeownership responsibilities often gravitate toward condos.
The difference between townhouse and condo represents distinct real estate investment options. Understanding their key differences and assessing your personal needs will guide you toward the right choice. Keep in mind that both options have their merits and drawbacks, and the decision should align with your financial situation, family size, and lifestyle.
If you're looking for a more informed decision, join LendGo today. It is a free platform connecting borrowers to reputable lenders. Whether you're seeking your first mortgage, refinancing, a VA loan, or a personal loan, LendGo offers a pathway to financial security.